15 Free or Cheap Things to Do

To have fun and cut costs, try hiking, hosting a potluck or visiting a museum on a free day.
Lauren SchwahnJul 1, 2019
15 Free or Cheap Things to Do

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Living a doesn’t have to be boring. To keep yourself entertained and on budget, check out these free or cheap things to do.

Many aquariums, museums and zoos waive admission fees on certain days. For example, Illinois residents can get free entry to the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago on select days with a valid identification.

In Washington, D.C., all Smithsonian museums and the zoo offer free admission year round. Other institutions have “pay what you wish” policies — which let you set the price — and some have discounts for students, senior citizens or military members.

And if you’re a Bank of America customer, your credit or debit card could be your ticket. The bank’s “” program offers free general admission to over 200 participating locations nationwide on the first full weekend of every month.

Dive into a new book or revisit an old favorite. If nothing on your bookshelf strikes your fancy, take a trip to the library, swap titles with a friend or check the used and sale sections at your local bookstore. If you’re an , you can choose from a collection of books, magazines and comics to download for free.

Use your public library card to check out a DVD from your neighborhood branch or stream a free movie from a website like Hoopla Digital. Or, browse the film selection on a reputable free streaming site or a you already subscribe to, such as Netflix.

It’s possible to go to the theater and keep costs in check, too. Join a loyalty program or attend a matinee to help .

Break out a board game, puzzle or deck of cards to pass the time. If video games are more your speed, check your app store for free or cheap games, or head over to a free gaming site like Pogo.

Looking for an athletic endeavor? Play a pickup game of basketball at the park, join a recreational sports league in your community — some are free, others cost a team registration fee — or attend as a spectator.

Lending a helping hand can be rewarding. Bonus: It’s free. Pick a cause you care about, like the environment, animals or education. Then, contact local organizations or use a service like to find volunteer opportunities that suit your interests.

Take in the sights, sounds, tastes and smells at your . Despite the expensive reputation, you can sometimes find locally grown fruits and vegetables for cheaper, or in larger quantities, than you would at the grocery store. Stroll through the stalls, talk with vendors and sample the offerings.

at thrift and consignment stores. Remember, you don’t have to buy anything. Sometimes it’s more fun to browse and try things on. Want more thrifty shopping tips? Learn .

Get out of the house and enjoy Mother Nature. You can do something as simple as taking a walk around the neighborhood, gardening or having a picnic. In the mood for adventure? Explore hiking and biking trails or go on a .

To get your music fix without forking over some money, scan the radio or try a free music service like or , which lets you use your library card to download songs. Live music can be affordable, too. Check event websites and venues for a list of upcoming shows and explore ways to .

Tap into your creative side to save money. You can whip up something tasty in the kitchen, start a crafty DIY project, create a photo album or write a short story. You might have most, if not all, of the materials you need on hand already.

You can find free tutorials for just about anything online. Choose something new you would like to learn. For example, study a foreign language, take up knitting or learn to do yourself. Practice photography or learn an instrument. The list is endless.

Getting in shape doesn’t have to come with an expensive monthly gym bill. Going for a run, taking a bike ride or working out alongside videos at home are just a few .

Organize a casual get-together with friends or neighbors. Make it a potluck, where everyone brings a signature dish, snack or beverage. That’ll ease the financial burden on the host, whether that’s you or someone else.

Let’s get real: Most of us are putting something off. Set aside time to clean the house, finish a project or get your affairs in order. That could mean creating your will, , planning a vacation or polishing your resume.

This option won’t cost a dime. In fact, you could even . Gather up unwanted clothes, furniture and other items from your home. Then, set up a few tables and invite the neighborhood to shop. You’ll get rid of clutter in an environmentally friendly way. Consider that a win-win.

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